Our Very First CD, with Ralph’s Life!

2014 is off to a mighty fine start for The Fine Line Project and friends, in particular Ralph, rock dog supreme. If you’re new to this blog, Ralph is a Jack Russell whose master Mike runs a popular Indie music blog and a weekly show on Radio Kaos Caribou, also a big supporter of ours. Ralph spent his Christmas and New Year leashed to Twitter, Facebook and an online crowdfunding project to raise money for a CD in aid of mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness. You can read more about that in our last blog, including a full track listing – 40 brilliant artists have donated their sounds to the project.

Ralph Fine Line Project Rethink CD cover

If you haven’t come across a crowdfunder before, it’s basically an all or nothing situation. Either you raise your cash in the allotted time or you don’t get a penny.  So things were a wee bit tense down at Ralph’s kennel on 2 January, as the 11th hour drew in and the money was still short. Thanks to an epic (this is definitely the right word) number of Tweets, including Christmas messages and personal appeals to every single one of some 5000 followers, and a rather sleepless night (we set alarms to follow the action from down South, at least we got some sleep), Mike managed to pull it off at the very last minute, topping his target of £5000 by an extra £120 on 3 January around 9 in the morning.

WOW! £5120 almost all thanks to the power of music and creative people who’ve supported this cause on Twitter, supplemented by a crowd of well wishers from further afield.

Some of that total will be wagging its way straight off to the charity – look  out for a swishy presentation cheque, currently being designed – while the rest will fund the CD and a launch gig in London, with ticket sales once again donated to Rethink.

*** We’ve always maintained that it’s not just about the money – awareness goes hand in hand with fundraising and we reckon generates much bigger and better things. The Ralph’s Life CD fundraiser has achieved way more than £5K+ in donations over the last few weeks. Forty fantastic artists have pledged their beautiful music and have lent their voices to a small campaign with a massive impact, hundreds and collectively thousands more have shown their support through Twitter, Facebook and via blogs and radio stations across the land and way beyond – lots of other countries joined in – with everyone united for one cause: talking about and raising money for mental health awareness and helping to counter the stigma which so often accompanies mental illness. ***

A lot of fun was also had along the way, especially in the build up to Christmas and New Year with extra music tracks donated, CDs, downloads, restaurant meals, artwork, T-shirts, cocktail recipes, special cassettes, knitted owls (we so wanted one!), poems, guitars, airtime, blog space, newspaper articles, interviews, RTs, MTs, SOs, future promises of support and so much more – it’s been an incredibly creative campaign all round.

One of our favourite things – listen to the RKC jingle:

Hats off to everyone who supported the cause and made such a big noise helping Ralph to achieve his goal with special thanks to RKC / Radio Kaos Caribou!

This is just the beginning of course…  Ralph’s master is now rather busy sorting the 240+ pledges from the crowdfunder, organising production of the 40 track CD and preparing for the London launch, a 14 band all day gig at Proud in Camden. We’re helping as much as we can. Whether you’ve been supporting this campaign all along or have just joined the ride, please help us too – let’s take this to the next level.

Support and Follow:

@fruitbatwalton (that’s Ralph) and @FineLineProject on Twitter, Ralph’s Mental Health Awareness Page on Facebook, The Fine Line Project on Facebook and please spread the word about the launch gig. Here’s the Facebook event page for that and here’s the crucial link:

2 MARCH 2014 – RALPH’S LIFE CD LAUNCH NIGHT TICKET LINK

The Proud Camden gig is due to feature 13 of the bands from the CD and one local guest band –that’s 14 bands, all for a mere £10 and with all proceeds to Rethink:

If you can’t make it to the gig, please keep an eye out for the CD – we’ll need your help to sell all the copies and raise even more money for Rethink.

Once again folks, THANK YOU!

Crowd Funding Campaign: Music Supporting Mental Health Awareness

Today’s the big day! Ralph’s Life has launched a 6 week crowd funding campaign to produce a charity CD featuring 40 brilliant tracks by (mainly) Indie artistes. We know they’re all brilliant because we did a mega micro-review session on Twitter covering every single number during a special show courtesy of the fantastic Radio Kaos Caribou a few days ago.

Wullae Wright, one of the talented contributors to the double album has created some stunning artwork featuring all the artistes’ names and the one and only Ralph, of course. Plans are afoot (apaw?) to get some prints made.

Wullae Wright for #RalFLP

The support for this great music project has so far been phenomenal and now’s the time to turn up the volume by sharing the story with as many people as you can. We want to raise as much awareness and money as possible. Every penny raised will go to charity Rethink Mental Illness – although they’re UK based their reach is global. Rethink also run ground-breaking campaigns like Time To Change with Mind Charity making a direct impact on how mental illness is viewed, discussed and managed at every level. It really is Time To Talk about mental health – this should be in the same breath as physical health – the two go hand in hand after all.

A couple of other artists are donating proceeds from their latest track sales over the next 6 weeks. Check this epic number by Graham Marshall whose track will feature on the double CD and this beautiful song by his friend Jane Allison.

To listen to some of the tracks on Ralph’s Life double album check out The Fine Line Project on Soundcloud.

The most crucial link of all, here is Ralph’s Life’s Charity Music CD’s Crowdfunding page – please make a pledge today (from as little as £1) and ask all your friends, family and work colleagues to get involved with this important cause. Mental health issues affect 1 in 4 worldwide – none of us can afford to be complacent. Let’s all help to bring about some change today.

We thank you in advance for spreading the good word and the great music!

Ralph’s Life Fundraising CD

It’s been a busy week for Ralph, top dog on the Indie music scene. He’s now managed to secure a grand total of 40 brilliant tracks for The Fine Line Project / Rethink fundraising CD with graphic design work donated by Simon Meakin and SCG Advertising. You can listen to all of the artistes’ tracks on Ralph’s special show on RKC / Radio Kaos Caribou tonight at 9pm GMT and tune in to some of them talking about this amazing project.

Ralph Fine Line Project Rethink CD cover

Later this week Ralph will be setting up some crowdfunding links for supporters to make pledges and get their paws on this incredible double CD, loaded with supreme sounds. Here’s a list of all the generous artistes who’ve contributed tracks to this project, in alphabetical order and with our BIGGEST thanks:

Ambrose Chappel – Pick It Up ( ft. iKashflo)
Culann – Jerusalem
Debs McCoy – Wendy
Elia and The Low Tears – Sweet Lies
Fat Goth – Creepy Lounge
Feral Five – Skin
Fiona Soe Paing – Daymoon Sun With thanks to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Daphne Oram Trust who gave permission for the sample on this track
Graham Marshall – Freedom Call
Great Reckoning – Bleed For Your Life
Have Mercy Las Vegas – Pappy
Helen McCookerybook – Monday’s Mood
Jess Harwood – Feeling Fine
King And Queen Of Sorry – (Couldn’t Get) High Enough (track TBC)
Matthew Hidden – A Berry Bursts
Mog Stanley – Devil In My Head (track TBC)
Mono Life – Disco In Paris
Plum – Casting Shadows
Pumajaw – Mask
Robb Murphy – Never Letting You Go
Shiny Rhino – I Love My Radio
Snippet – Celebration
Steve Heron – Eleanor
Stillia – You Only Live Once
Tea Street Band – Push The Feeling On (Tom Eno Remix)
The Bedroom Hour – X Marks The Spot
The Fireflys – Hummingbird
The Folk Remedy – Sirens
The Low Countries – At The End Of The Day
The Mutineers – Tell Me Why
The Ninth Watch – Forever’s a Long Time
The Travelling Band – Took My Soul
The Varese’s – Spotlight
Tingle In The Netherlands – Prostitute’s Handbag
TiTORS iNSiGNia – Beg, Plead And Pray
Tom Robinson – The Mighty Sword Of Justice
Velocets – Secrets
Vukovi – Schwagger
We Came From The Sea – Animalskin
Whispery Club – The Boy
Wullae Wright (prod. by Ambrose Chappel) – Fight Or Flight

There have also been donations for the pledges from The Dogs in Edinburgh and Food by Jonny Marsh in Manchester. Every single penny raised will be going to support Rethink Mental Illness.

Big thanks to the acts who’ve been bigging this story up on Twitter – we’ll tag you all as we progress through this project.

We’re particularly grateful to Graham Marshall who, as well as donating a track to the CD, is pledging his fee from his next gig and all proceeds from the independent sales of his track to the cause. Go check him out live in London on the 5th December at Cecil Sharp House if you can. Here’s his track, Freedom Call (buy it now! All funds to Rethink) and here’s a little sneak preview, The Mighty Sword of Justice by the legendary Tom Robinson, both to feature on Ralph’s CD. To hear the rest, don’t forget to tune into RKC tonight at 9 – click on their logo below for access. There’ll be more news from us and the heroic Ralph soon.

RKC logo

Get On The Dog And Bone – We’ve Got News!

Big news at The Fine Line Project and it didn’t come down the phone line, we heard it on Twitter first. The most connected Jack Russell in music, top dog at the Ralph’s Life Music Blog, has decided to crowdfund a charity CD for us and we’re going to donate all the money to Rethink!Ralph's Life CD Project

It just so happens that it’s a big week for Rethink Mental Illness too. Schizophrenia Awareness Week runs from today until the 17th November. With the tag line Stand Up For Schizophrenia, the campaign focuses on widening understanding about this often shunned and misunderstood illness.

Imagine being bombarded with voices from invisible forces and being stripped of your ability to understand what’s real and what isn’t.

You discover you can’t trust your senses, your mind plays tricks on you, and your family or friends might even appear to be part of a conspiracy to harm you.

This is schizophrenia.

What could be worse than these symptoms?

Sadly, ignorance and fear can be. We can all help improve the lives of people with schizophrenia by standing alongside them and spreading more understanding. Let’s tackle the ignorance, the fear and the stigma together.Rethink logo

The Fine Line Project has raised funds for Rethink before and we’re delighted to support them again, this time with Ralph’s venture. The charity has a national reach and an international impact. They also tackle the harder end of mental health and they run brilliant and inclusive awareness campaigns. finelineprojectcheque2013rethinkWWe recently delivered a cheque for £1000 to them, raised with multi-media site St Pauls Lifestyle’s support at The Cellar in Southampton. This epic show featured Noah Francis, Where’s Strutter?, Charlotte Campbell and Mog Stanley.  We’ve got another live event in the pipeline, but more about that later. Right now we’re pulling out all the stops for Ralph’s fundraising CD – please join us in supporting his efforts and in raising mental health awareness everywhere. Let’s spin this one out, not just this week but all the way to the CD launch and way beyond.

BIG thanks to Ralph’s Life and all the early adopters – we’ve got some brilliant music lined up and this time if you can’t come to the gig you can still support the project by buying a copy of the CD online. Check back soon for a band list and lots more news. You can also get the latest on Twitter and Facebook. We thank you for your support.

Art Exhibition Review – Madge Gill: Medium and Visionary – Orleans House Gallery

To mark today’s World Mental Health Day, which focuses this year on older adults, we’re posting a review of last night’s opening of Madge Gill: Medium and Visionary at Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham.

Madge Gill Invitation Illustration Henry-Boxer-Gallery

This exhibition brings together some 100 artworks together with supporting documents and photographs providing the most comprehensive overview of Gill’s work to date. Further information is supplied in an excellent catalogue compiled and edited by Mark de Novellis, who has curated this fascinating show alongside Henry Boxer, Roger Cardinal and Vivienne Roberts, all of whom have contributed to the publication.

From 1919 Gill produced works in various media, including knitting, embroidery, rug-making, and drawing in inks – this last proving her richest vein and being the main focus for the exhibition. Her output was achieved over a forty year period, with the most prolific phase taking place in the 1950s.

It is fitting to start with Madge Gill’s own words: “It was in 1919 when I first started my work. I then had an inspiration to take up my pen and do all kinds of works of an artistic type. I felt that I had an artistic faculty seeking expression. It took various forms. First of all, knitting – even without any pattern. Then came a flow of all kinds of inspirational writing, mostly Biblical.

madge gill floral abstract_resizeThen I felt impelled to execute drawings on a large scale on calico. I simply couldn’t leave it and I did on average 20 pictures a week, all in colour. All the time I was in quite a normal state of mind and there was no suggestion of a ‘spirit’ standing beside me. I simply felt inspired. Sometimes I would be dissatisfied with the work and tear it up or burn it. But I felt I was definitely guided by an unseen force, though I could not say what its actual nature was. “  Extract from an interview in Prediction Magazine, 1937.

Madge Gill 151 Black ink on board Abstract circle 20 24 inchesFor Outsider artists more often than not the creative process is an internal exploration. Gill later spoke of hearing voices throughout her life and of the spirit which propelled her creative urges, known as Myrninerest. Most of her artwork is unsigned but where it is marked, credit is given solely to her spirit guide. She refused to sell her pieces on the basis that the work didn’t belong to her but to Myrninerest. There is evidence that she was known as a psychic and medium, certainly a visionary in some respects. It has also been suggested that she may have been schizophrenic but no diagnosis was made. She did have a spell in the Lady Chichester Hospital for Women and Children in Hove, an establishment focused on the ‘borderland’ between wellness and ill health, more specifically mental health. Certainly her life, both the traumatic early years and the periods surrounding the stillbirth of her daughter and the death of one of her sons at the age of 8 would suggest that she suffered from depression. Her family as an adult however seemed to accept her as she was, this despite a strained relationship with her husband. In later life her sons supported her and embraced their mother’s strange and often compulsive behaviour, enabling her to continue to produce work until she died in her seventies. By that time she had amassed a couple of thousand artworks, with over 1200 bequeathed by her son Laurie to their local East Ham County Borough Council, now looked after by the London Borough of Newham. Many of these works have been included in this exhibition.

Madge Gill selfportraitMadge Gill was born in 1882 and died in 1961. A short biography, written by Roger Cardinal is available on a website dedicated to her work and life. Cardinal, who is currently working on a full biography, is an acknowledged expert on Gill and more generally on Outsider art, an expression he coined in 1972 when his seminal book of the same name was first published covering what had previously been described as ‘Art Brut’. As Cardinal writes in a comprehensive essay in the exhibition catalogue’s introduction: “Creative inspiration can travel down unsuspected paths and sometimes visits individuals who know nothing of art history and who have little idea of the world of high art frequented by intellectuals, critics , connoisseurs, teachers and cultured enthusiasts. Such individuals need no training and are often satisfied with a minimum of acclaim, for their commitment to personal expression thrives independently of the interest or approval of others. Outsider artists, as they have come to be called, enjoy their idiosyncratic approach to creation and operate with sublime self-assurance, ignoring the beaten track of the art class and the public gallery. Madge Gill was one such exponent of self-justifying and unmonitored art-making, and today long after her death, her reputation as an outstanding example of creative individualism continues to grow. This long overdue retrospective honours her as a rare exemplar of self-reliant artistry.”

Madge Gill Three draped figures in a chequered settingSpeaking at the exhibition opening Cardinal suggested that the presence of a spiritual guide in Gill’s life might have provided the permission she needed to give herself to dedicate most of her time to her art: “She was minded to do it,” he said. He also points out that “Gill’s craftsmanship is characterised by dogged perseverance.” Later on she worked on rolls on canvas that she had no hope of viewing in full in the small room that she worked in at home. At this stage she agreed to exhibit her work publicly perhaps with the sole aim of seeing these large pieces in their entirety. One of these, a monumental pen and ink work on calico entitled The Crucifixion of The Soul, measures 11 metres and is displayed in the Orleans House show.

Madge Gill artwork untitledWhat shines through in this inspiring, extensive yet intimate exhibition, is Gill’s unstinting dedication to making her mark, her obsessive attention to detail and her almost unerring need to cover every centimetre of the surface. A proliferation of faces, watchful eyes, geometric shapes and intense surface decoration permeates almost all the works – a veritable outpouring of creativity. There is a good cross section of monochrome works interspersed with many of her sensitively coloured pieces, displays of her postcards, found in numerous boxes under her bed following her death. The attic and virtually other rooms held more caches.

The arts team at Richmond Upon Thames Borough and the co-curators have created an extraordinary testament to this extraordinary woman. Thanks to a grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Orleans House Gallery exhibition and accompanying catalogue has also enabled new multi-disciplinary research into Madge Gill’s creativity via a team which includes Dr Paul Camic, Professor of Psychology and Public Health and mental health historian Dr Rob Ellis.

MadgeGill abstract blue yellowAs Dr Camic writes: “Wellbeing is not a fixed place that, once we arrive, remains constant. Our wellbeing is something that fluctuates depending on the challenges we face and the resources we can muster. Madge Gill faced an enormous number of challenges in her life. Her art-making can be seen as a kind of comeback to these challenges and appreciated as a creative and life-affirming response to external events and the internal emotional upheaval which they caused. While the meaning and purpose of her art-making was multi-determined and multifaceted, there are two fundamental ways in which it can be psychologically understood; how it helped to form an important element of her resilience and how it was used as a resource that contributed to her fluctuating sense of wellbeing.”

This brings us neatly to another constructive spin off afforded by the Madge Gill retrospective: Richmond Borough’s Art & Soul Project.  Members of this already well-established group have been working on their own pieces, informed and inspired by Gill’s artwork. A section of the space at Orleans House Gallery displays some of their exciting new work. This member led organisation aims to provide a positive framework in which people with mental health issues can express themselves, develop new skills and make a positive contribution using active participation and the group experience to give many a needed boost in self-confidence and self worth during difficult periods in their lives. One might suggest that first and foremost though participation in the project  offers a chance for self-expression and creativity, a compelling sometimes healing life force which Gill’s outstanding and extensive oeuvre amply illustrates.

Review © Emma Boden, Armadillo Central

Text extracts: Madge Gill Medium & Visionary, published by Orleans House Gallery, ISBN 1-902643-17-8

Pictures courtesy of / © : London Borough of Newham Heritage and Archives; Musée de l’Art Brut, Lausanne; Henry Boxer Gallery; De Novellis Collection.

Madge Gill The SpiritualistMadge Gill: Medium & Visionary runs until the 26th January 2014 at Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ. Admission is free. Tuesday to Saturday 1pm to 4.30pm; Sunday and Bank Holidays 2pm to 4.30pm.

Find out more about:

Madge Gill

The Art & Soul Project

Madge Gill artwork b

Where’s Strutter? @ The Fine Line Project, Southampton Cellar

WheresStrutterA2310WwmEvery so often you come across a band that’s so great live that you’re left utterly speechless – such is Where’s Strutter? It’s almost three months since they performed for The Fine Line Project at The Cellar in Southampton and we’re still in recovery, still searching for the right words to describe the sheer utter awesomness of their performance.WheresStrutter2350Wwm

The band travelled from Manchester on the day, had a puncture on the way, thus missing their studio session with multi-media magazine St Pauls Lifestyle (which will come later – meanwhile check out previous sessions on their LISTED ARTIST page) yet arrived perfectly chilled and went on to deliver with complete ease the most blistering, hottest set ever. The stage and the venue vanished altogether into the music and the moment.WheresStrutter2352Wwm

From Bones which starts off with a laid back ballady blues vibe, building into an enveloping anthem, peppered by perfect drumming, the signature sound of echoing guitars and utterly confident pitch perfect vocals, and onto other brilliant tracks from their current CD, Where’s Strutter? sure know how to hold their audience’s attention.WheresStrutter2355Wwm

Their music seamlessly crosses genres from hard edged rock into clever little strands of pop, atmospheric passages which transport you altogether elsewhere (was that bit of morse code? check the EP…) and stunning blues, blending unusual sounds into beautiful melodies that are at once new and yet strangely familiar. These guys have it just right – catchy guitar riffs, anthemic choruses, perfect timing, neat lyrics and a fantastic stage presence. If the sign of great artists is the apparent ease with which they demonstrate their talent, Where’s Strutter? have it in arena-loads.WheresStrutter2356Wwm

We’ve been enjoying their EP, Apollo’s Bloom, ever since we got our hands on a copy at the gig. Here’s the track listing:

Bones
Binded By The Sun
Questions (check out the video here)
Back To The End
See You AroundWheresStrutter2359Wwm

Get yourself a copy of this little gem while it’s still available – a bargain at £3.99 – and what’s more get down to their next gig and catch them live in a smaller venue before they become massive. In a few days time they’ll be on stage with another epic band, fronted by the great Pete Doherty. Where’s Strutter? are supporting Babyshambles at Manchester Academy on 7th September – so wish we were in town for that one!WheresStrutter2360WwmWheresStrutter2347WwmWheresStrutter2346Wwm

Where’s Strutter? features Patrick Neville, Lee Broadbent, Dan Green and Josh Leach. With the biggest thanks for their appearance at The Fine Line Project’s Rethink Benefit. Thanks also to Steve Maynard for all the great photos, St Pauls Lifestyle for their amazing ongoing support – take a look at our LISTED ARTIST pages on their site – and The Cellar Southampton, such a great venue.

Charlotte Campbell @ The Fine Line Project, Southampton Cellar

Charlotte Campbell delivered a finely tuned and utterly engaging set for our Rethink Mental Illness Benefit last month. Catchy songs, finely played, interspersed with a perfectly pitched dialogue – the entire audience was enchanted.

CharlotteCampbellA2276SteveMaynardTFLP613a

Since the gig we’ve been enjoying her album Blue Eyed Soul – thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics, fresh melodies, crystalline voice with a honeyed warmth.CharlotteCampbellA2272SteveMaynardTFLP613b

Along with her signature tracks Blue Eyes, Green Eyes, Quiet Nights and Feathers and Wax (more of which below), check Jump, Charlotte’s reflections on the music industry, and On the Southbank dedicated to the famous London riverside where you may yet catch her busking, before she becomes too famous.

CharlotteCampbellA2252SteveMaynardTFLP613wmWe also love Feathers & Wax, with thanks to Charlotte for sharing the lyrics – here’s a little snippet:

We look around for something inviting
For unholy ground, safe from the lightening that singed our wings.
Why are we here, raising our voices?
It seems so unclear, but we all made our choices to sing.
And that’s the main thing.

I’ve found that the meaning of life
Is to do what you love and try to survive  
And hope that you don’t fall apart
When you’re finally opening your heart.
And find that the clothes on your back
Are nothing but feathers and wax.CharlotteCampbellA2260SteveMaynardTFLP613wm

Here’s a link to the full track on Charlotte’s site:

Read some more about this bright young artiste and listen to a couple of completely different tracks on St Pauls Lifestyle’s brilliant multi-media site. Most of all catch her next gigs – Charlotte’s singing in Llanbedrog, Aylesbury and Cambridge so far in August.

CharlotteCampbellA2274SteveMaynardTFLP613wmcfBig thanks again to Charlotte, Steve Maynard for some more great photographs, the St Pauls Lifestyle team and The Cellar Southampton for hosting the event.